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CODA Woman Adopts Deaf Puppy 'Evie'

Deaf News: Deaf puppy finds forever home with loving couple.

VANCOUVER, BC -- Vancouver Sun: Evie, a playful husky-German shepherd cross, will never hear someone call her a good girl.

But the intuitive white puppy with one blue and one brown eye does know her owners think she’s special and have given her a second chance at a great life despite being completely Deaf.

Three months ago, Marisa Nielsen and fiancé Desmond Kumar were walking by the SPCA in east Vancouver when, on a whim, they went in to see the dogs up for adoption.

The two had been struggling after the death of their beloved dog Oliver in January, and decided to take a walk through the kennels even though they had no intention of adopting a dog at that moment.

But there, right before them was the match they knew was too perfect to pass up.

Nielsen, 27, is from a home in which both parents are Deaf, and Kumar works as a sign-language interpreter.

While they know how to communicate with Deaf humans, they were ready to jump through hoops to give Evie the extra attention needed for her puppy training.

“She barks when she wants to play,” Nielsen said of their new family member. “She has no idea how loud she sounds.”

While both can fully communicate in sign language, Nielsen admits it was a daunting task when they began to train Evie. “When we first got her it was a two-person job training her,” said Nielsen.

One of the toughest things at the start of the training was to keep the dog from looking off and losing focus, so one person held her head while the other would give her the hand signals.

Along the way, the couple have had some help with the training, mostly from people in the Trinity Lutheran Church for the Deaf congregation where her father David Nielsen is a pastor.

One member of her father’s church group in Surrey has a Deaf dog and Nielsen said they got some great tips. “We were told the most important thing to focus on was to get her onto as many signs as possible while she is young.”

“They love her out there,” added Nielsen.

Evie was originally bought on Craigslist as a small puppy by a young couple, but once they found out she was Deaf and would require a different training regime they sent her off to the SPCA in Vancouver.

Growing up in a family with both parents Deaf helped in the training process, said Nielsen. “Having that background was so helpful in understanding why her behaviour was different than other dogs,” she said.

Once they were able to make strides in the puppy training, Nielsen said few could tell Evie was Deaf.

“She is such a cute puppy,” said Nielsen. “She is a very calm little dog. She walks well on the leash and is very friendly with other dogs.”

Once Evie gets older, the couple plan on getting a vibration collar for her and take her to agility classes. “She is so smart and always wants to please,” Nielsen said of their prized pooch.

The BC SPCA’s Lorie Chortyk thinks the couple and the dog are a perfect fit. “For us the important thing is getting the right match,” said Chortyk. “In this case when we have an animal with special needs we work to get them matched up with the right owners.”

She warned people about buying pets off the internet. “That can be where they often sell dogs from puppy mills,” said Chortyk. “Go to a reputable breeder or go to a shelter to get a dog. There are so many great animals in shelters.“

A reputable breeder will have the history of the pup’s parents, she noted.

“We certainly do get dogs (at the shelter) that are Deaf,” said Chortyk. “Our philosophy is there is a right match for every dog that comes to us, and in this case that is what happened.”

She added that a deaf dog can have a great life, with few barriers once they are trained.

“You have to have some precautions, but they can live a long, happy life,” she said.


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